July 24, Boris Johnson took office as Prime Minister of Great Britain. As a result of an internal party vote, Johnson outperformed his main rivals – Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt; Minister of the Environment, Food, and Agriculture Michael Gove; Minister of Internal Affairs Sajid Javid – and headed the Conservative Party. In the final round, primaries Boris Johnson opposed Jeremy Hunt, who was then the head of the British Foreign Ministry. Johnson won a landslide victory by a margin of two-thirds of the votes – about 93 thousand party members supported his candidacy.
“It’s time to get to work to implement Brexit, unite the party, defeat [Labor leader] Jeremy Corbin!” Said the leader of the Conservative Party immediately after the announcement of the results of the internal party primaries. A month after the appointment of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the first major political event at Johnson’s post was the suspension of the work of the government by the Queen’s decision, which sharply caused massive protests in the country .
From the “fourth power” to the first
Boris Johnson is a graduate of Oxford University. It was there that he met many influential people who subsequently played a key role in his political career. Classmates of young Boris were the future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron and aristocrat Charles Spencer.
Johnson, Cameron and Spencer spent a lot of time together in their student years and became close friends. Their warm friendships remain to this day, and Johnson, in general, does not hide this. Even young, but already so ambitious, Boris received from the university a solid foundation in the form of excellent connections and, of course, an excellent education.
After university, Johnson was engaged in journalism: in 1987, he began working as a trainee in the newspaper The Times. However, a few months later, Johnson was fired from the newspaper because of an article in which he attributed a nonexistent quote to his own godfather, historian Colin Lucas, recalled biographer Andrew Gimson in his book .
Just a couple of weeks after his dismissal, Johnson became a Daily Telegraph reporter, and in 1989, at the suggestion of his own publication, he moved to Brussels, where he worked for 5 years as his own correspondent for the newspaper. Johnson subsequently stated that this trip allowed him to watch live the formation of the European Union, the history of which was happening right before his eyes.
In 1994, he returned to the UK and four years later, in 1998, he left the Daily Telegraph and went to work at the BBC. And in 2000, he became the editor-in-chief of the weekly social and political magazine The Spectator.
The future Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson, entered politics in the summer of 2001. Then, exactly 18 years before the current post, he won his first election and became a member of the House of Commons from the Conservative Party. “Johnson, with all his talents, […] is unlikely to become an“ adornment ”for any Tory office in the future,” the journalist of London Evening Standard, Max Hastings, described the first political success of the future prime minister. But, it seems, he was mistaken.
Liberal, populist and nationalist
Johnson served as a member of the English Parliament for a total of seven years – from 2001 to 2008. In 2005, he was re-elected, enlisting the broad support of a conservative voter. But the ambitions of politics did not end there. As it turned out, this was only the beginning.
However, for his seven-year parliamentary mandate, Johnson has already established himself as one of the most scandalous and politically incorrect persons in the parliament. In 2002, for example, he declared : “If left to their own devices, the natives of [Africa] would rely solely on the quick carbohydrate satisfaction of bananas,” bearing in mind that the United Kingdom should not be ashamed of the colonial past, which has given diversity to countries such as Uganda.
In general, Boris Johnson’s attitude towards Africa can be characterized by his statements during his work in parliament, which very consistently reflect the politician’s point of view on the colonial period on the continent: “[South African President] De Clerk must have known what would happen after him – the tyranny of the minority of apartheid times will be replaced by the tyranny of the black majority. ” Or for example: “This continent [Africa] is a spot on the map, but not on our conscience. “His problem is not that we once ruled there – the problem is that we do not rule there anymore.”
Johnson voiced all these statements, being an official, while being one of the leaders of the Conservative Party of Great Britain.
In 2008, Boris Johnson won the mayoral election in London for the first time (in 2012, he was re-elected to the post of mayor for the second time). By this time, he already had the nickname of the “new nationalist” and even the “xenophobe”, which did not prevent him from gaining widespread support from Londoners.
Some political scientists – for example, Johnson’s former Spectator colleague Stuart Reid – argue that at the time he was elected mayor, Johnson had a “revolution” in his views: from a nationalist to a center-right, economic liberal, traditionalist and conservative. The politician himself in those years described himself as a “real” liberal who advocates an open market and low taxation. He also said that he was very impressed with the policy of Churchill, who, according to him, “saved” Great Britain and Europe from the “tyranny of fascism and racism”. In parallel, he compared the creation of an alliance of European countries under the flag of the EU with Napoleon and Hitler’s attempts to unite Europe. As mayor, Johnson has repeatedly expressed skepticism about UK membership in the European Union.
In general, Johnson’s political portrait looks as follows: on the ideological spectrum, he is far enough to the right (nationalist and even racist statements do not even count on the right center), pursues a liberal economic policy (tax cuts and support for small and medium-sized enterprises), advocates British unionism (for the return to the United Kingdom of “former greatness”, the unity of the country), in international politics – Eurosceptic, in domestic – traditionalist and national conservative.
The scandal of the politician has recently been compared with the behavior of US President Donald Trump. When comparing Trump and Johnson, the American Politico magazine drew attention to the general tendency in the rhetoric of both leaders, describing it as “new nationalism” and even “xenophobia”. Johnson himself denied the title of “xenophobic” and “nationalist” and, on the contrary, being the foreign minister, called Trump “a stunningly ignorant type” who is “clearly out of his mind”.
In 2016, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the holding of a general referendum, which was to determine the future fate of the country as part of the European Union. Two opposing political campaigns began: against Brexit and, accordingly, for Britain’s exit from the EU (Brexit).
This referendum divided not only the whole nation (about 51% were in favor of secession from the European Union, 49% were against), but also two old friends – Johnson and Cameron. The latter campaigned to stay in the EU. Moreover, Cameron developed a plan according to which Britain could have privileged rights and special membership in the Union.
But Johnson was categorical – he was (and still remains) a supporter of the “hard” brexit, believing that it is impossible to make any concessions to the EU. With his vivid anti-globalist rhetoric, Johnson managed to mobilize his own electorate.
Consistently defending the position of the Eurosceptic, Boris Johnson won after the referendum. His idea won and, thus, he had a chance to lead the country at the crucial moment. David Cameron lost, and it seemed that the UK was about to have a new hero – a Brexit man, who was supposed to take the country out of the “dark times”.
Winner gets everything
After Cameron’s resignation, many British and global media outlets read Johnson’s prime minister’s chair. But due to the nomination of his closest ally and comrade, the Minister of Justice of Great Britain Michael Gove to the post of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson decided to withdraw his candidacy and not run for Prime Minister. Johnson dropped out of the race without a fight, while still being one of her favorites.
Meanwhile, Theresa May then became the leader of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that she remained in the Cameron team until the end and was generally against the country’s exit from the EU, May promised to fulfill the will of the people and carry out Brexit. Johnson served as foreign secretary and took a stand-by position. In 2018, he completely resigned as head of the Foreign Ministry and returned to his native newspaper Daily Telegraph, violating the three-month period that is given to every civil servant after leaving senior positions to avoid a conflict of interest.
When Theresa May’s failure during negotiations with the EU became apparent in 2019, Johnson rejoined the critique of soft brexit again and returned to the political race for the prime minister’s chair. On June 12, Johnson delivered a keynote speech in which he declared that it was necessary to put an end to the “uncertainty weakening the country” and called himself “the right person to take this country forward.” At the same time, May could not agree on her plan for the country to leave the Union with parliament and, after several unsuccessful attempts, was forced to resign in mid-June 2019. The time has come for the primaries of the Conservative Party: Johnson announced his intention to run for the post of leader of the Conservatives, and hence the country’s prime minister. His hour has struck.
Many leading British publications ranked Boris Johnson among the leaders of the race. For example, before the final, the BBC primaries of the Conservative Party called politics “the clear favorite” in the struggle for the post of prime minister, and the Euronews television channel described Johnson as the leader of the “[…] succession race to Theresa May” before the start of the party’s vote . Johnson won the final round, ironically, the British Foreign Minister in the government of May Jeremy Hunt, who represents the same bright and successful generation of politicians who left the walls of Oxford University in the 80s.
After the victory, Johnson promised to leave the EU on time – October 31, 2019, without delay. This date was set by the European Commission after the next round of negotiations with Theresa May. Under Johnson, the likelihood of Britain leaving the EU without a deal increased – that is, without any economic or political guarantees.
Thus, Johnson got the chair of the Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party, and now he can also be universally recognized and even remain in history as the person who made the British exit from the European Union and fulfilled the will of the majority.
About attitude to Russia
“Vladimir, there are countries where 12% of people use the toilet on the street,” Johnson replied to Putin after the Russian president drafted a “death sentence” to liberalism around the world. Of course, Johnson hinted at Russia. And it was clear that liberal countries were flourishing, but autocracy itself (Vladimir Putin chose the exact word) is “getting out.”
Johnson regularly speaks about Russia as a whole and about the regime of Vladimir Putin in particular. For example, after the poisoning of Sergey and Julia Skripaley in the UK in March 2018, Johnson compared the upcoming World Cup in Russia with the Olympic Games in Hitler Germany in 1936. In 2016, he called the current system, built in the Russian Federation, “a gangster kleptocracy,” without any false illusions in attempts to build a positive dialogue with the Kremlin.
Understand, I’m not really a fan of Vlad. Quite the contrary. With the support of Russia, part of Ukraine is illegally occupied. Putin’s puppet army is almost certainly guilty of killing passengers on the Malaysian Airlines airliner, shot down in eastern Ukraine.
We have questions for him regarding the death of Alexander Litvinenko, mercilessly poisoned in a London restaurant. He is considered a key figure in the huge post-Soviet gangster kleptocracy and the richest man on the planet. Journalists who oppose him are being killed. His competitors end up in jail.
Although he looks like Dobby’s house elf, he is in fact a ruthless tyrant.
December 2018 (quote from the BBC )
However, sometimes Johnson even expressed gratitude to Putin – for example, for the fight against international terrorism: “If Putin’s soldiers helped to get the maniacs out of Palmyra, then (and it pains me to admit it), this speaks very well about Russians. They made the West look ineffective, so it’s time for us to draw conclusions and play our own strength. ”
In a 2017 interview with The Sunday Times, Boris Johnson, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave the most accurate description of relations between the two countries.
I read the story of the Peloponnesian war of Thucydides. It was obvious to me that Athens and their democracy, their openness, their culture and civilization were analogous to the United States and the West. Russia for me was closed, unfriendly, militaristic and anti-democratic, like Sparta. There was a wonderful moment of hope and change when the Berlin Wall was demolished. But now there is a feeling that it was a complete illusion.
Russia has not been so hostile to Britain or Western interests since the end of the Cold War. We must be firm, we must be vigilant, but we must interact. Together we defeated Nazism. We must work together again to defeat Islamic terrorism.
at that time as head of the British Foreign Office